Wilfried Zaha returned to haunt Manchester United with a deadly double as Crystal Palace landed a dramatic 3-1 win to leave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reeling.
Just as they did in the early weeks of last season, Palace took all three points from their trip to Old Trafford, as a brittle United team were picked apart.
Andros Townsend hit a seventh-minute opener but the match was still in the balance with around 20 minutes to play when Palace were awarded a penalty, after Jordan Ayew’s flick struck the hand of Victor Lindelof.
Goalkeeper David de Gea looked to have made himself a hero when he saved the softly struck penalty from Ayew, only for a re-take to be ordered, and this time former United winger Zaha stepped up to smash the ball high into the net.
United new boy Donny van de Beek pulled one back, but Zaha added a third Palace goal in the 85th minute, holding off weak link Lindelof and drilling beyond De Gea from the edge of the penalty area.
Lindelof’s grim outing began when his timid defending allowed Jeffrey Schlupp to send over the low cross from the left that Townsend smashed back across goal from beyond the far post, finding the bottom left corner to put the visitors ahead.
United peppered the Palace goal but without ever looking genuinely menacing.
Indeed, it was Palace who looked the most potent and Ayew drew a save from De Gea early in the second half before Townsend had a dangerous shot deflected over.
There was relief in the United ranks when Zaha burst through and lashed the ball past De Gea, only to be shown to have run offside.
Yet not even a De Gea penalty save offered the real succour they were seeking. The Spaniard, preferred to Dean Henderson, dived to his right to make a comfortable stop, but he had moved a fraction off his line before the shot and was punished. Ayew handed over responsibility to Zaha, who fired high into the net.
Zaha joined United in January 2013 but barely played for the club before being shipped out on loan to Cardiff and then returning to Palace. Their loss has been the Eagles’ gain, with Zaha becoming a Premier League star and frequently linked to bigger clubs.
Van de Beek, on as a substitute, got United back into this game, but Zaha had the final say with his terrific second goal.